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Published on June 22, 2018

Men's Health: Fatherhood, Low-T and Staying Healthy

Men's Health: Fatherhood, Low-T and Staying Healthy

In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts explore men's health, including:

Becoming a Dad

It is just as important for fathers to begin holding and bonding with their babies immediately following birth as it is with mothers. However, men tend to be a bit more anxious about holding newborns than women are. The more fathers step into the role of consoling their babies, the more at ease and confident they become. Cone Health created “Daddy Boot Camp” after recognizing the need to educate men in the community about parenthood to help them step into their role as a dad more confidently and become a better partner in their child’s care.

This course offers dads-to-be the tools and knowledge needed to feel confident on their journey to becoming new fathers. This course offers them the tools and knowledge needed to feel confident on their journey to becoming new fathers. Veteran dads who have been trained as coaches, teach dads-to-be how to hold, comfort, diaper, swaddle and play with their infant while being able to support the new mom as well. This is a class for men, taught by men, and the only females allowed to participate are infants under six months old. What makes the class a success is the rookie dads see a veteran dad with their 4-month-old on their lap or in their arms and they start to sense that they can do this!

Most of the new dads to be are a little shaky when they arrive, and we always ask who was told to attend by their partner or who gave up 3 hours on a Saturday to come on their own. Either way, within the first 15 minutes of boot camp, all of the guys are glad they came. As instructors, getting to watch a Dad-to-be who has never held, changed, burped, or soothed a crying baby gain the confidence to care for their child and provide meaningful and genuine support to the new mom makes it all worth it. It’s always a joy to see these dads return as veterans to help out the next group of men.

Boot camps are held at both Women’s Hospital in Greensboro and at Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington.

Joe Davis is the director of Supply Chain Operations with Cone Health and a Daddy Boot Camp Instructor at Cone Health Women’s Hospital.

Low Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone the body produces in both men and women, although men have much higher levels. As some men get older, the amount of testosterone their body produces can start to decrease, causing fatigue, poor concentration, inability to build muscle and/or a decrease in libido. These can be signs of other illnesses as well, which is why it is important to talk with your provider if you consistently experience these symptoms.

Testing a man’s testosterone levels is fairly simple and only requires a few blood tests over a period of time. If his levels are consistently low, he can discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with his provider. Taking testosterone can help men feel better, increase their energy levels, build muscle, reduce the chance of osteoporosis, have healthier vascular function and improved erectile function. However, testosterone supplements also carry risks, like an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, testicular atrophy and rage. It can also worsen untreated prostate cancer. Once a man starts taking testosterone it’s hard to stop because the body may further reduce its production of testosterone during treatment.

There are a few primary forms of treatment: a lotion, gel, patch or regular injections. If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone, talk to your primary care provider about what is best for them. Your provider can walk you through all of the risks and benefits, and come up with a plan that fits your individual needs. If testosterone supplements are the best course of action, your provider will monitor your treatment closely and make any changes as needed.

Benjamin Herrick, MD, is a urologist in Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff.

Strategies for Achieving Optimal Health

Even if you feel healthy, it’s important to schedule regular visits to your primary care provider to establish a baseline for your health and stay up to date on any recommended screenings. The best way to stay healthy is by practicing prevention and talking to your physician about how diet, regular exercise, hydration and getting a good night’s sleep all contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to routine screening for heart disease and diabetes, men’s health focus in primary care includes education and screening for prostate and testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is more common in younger men (aged 20-40), and men should bring any lump or change in the testicle to the attention of their provider. As men draw closer to the age of 50, doctors begin to discuss their risk of prostate, colon and lung cancer, and if screenings would be beneficial.

Your primary care provider will also keep you up to date on any vaccines, such as shingles or flu, to prevent future illnesses. Developing a relationship with your healthcare provider can help catch any illnesses early and enable you to start treatment as soon as possible. If a primary care physician knows your family history, they can watch for illnesses that you are at risk for and monitor your risk factors. They also help control chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes. They individualize medicine to provide you with the best possible treatment for you, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

Stephen Hunter, MD, is a family medicine physician at LeBauer HealthCare at Brassfield and a member of Cone Health Medical Group.

2 Your Well-Being

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